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Raleigh’s Ark:The Early Modern Arithmetic of Livestock

Raleigh’s Ark:The Early Modern Arithmetic of Livestock

Tail (p.270) Raleigh’s Ark:The Early Modern Arithmetic of Livestock
The Accommodated Animal
Laurie Shannon
University of Chicago Press

The story of Noah’s Ark taxed the early modern imagination with problems as to its validity. Should the story of Noah and the ark be read as a literal piece? Johannes Buteo was the one who answered the call to defend the faith and literal reading by addressing all the concerns of the story that pertained to the technical challenges. Buteo calculated the size and shape of the ark, and also determined how the animals could fit. Walter Raleigh calls Buteo’s treatise learned and cites his computations, but adds further reductions in his own approach to the ark problem. This chapter maps out the ways in which the ark was scrutinized and studied, stressing the incredible variety of earthly kinds, whether as a testimony to divine omnicompetence or a natural-historical “veneration” for nature’s generativity. For painters, to invoke the wonder of this scene was to bestow significance to natural diversity as such.

Keywords:   Noah’s Ark, Johannes Buteo, Walter Raleigh, nature’s generativity, natural diversity, divine omnicompetence

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